Italy ItAF AMX 103 Gruppo credit Aeronautica Militare 640103° Gruppo "Indiani" turns 80!

On 15 February 2023, the Aeronautica Militare (ItAF, Italian Air Force) celebrated the 80th anniversary of the 103° Gruppo (Squadron) Caccia Bombardieri Ricognitori “Davide Velut” with the special colored AMX ACOL MM7163/51-72 (c/n IX075).

Despite the Gruppo (Squadron) being dismissed (posizione "quadro") on 22 September 2016, a meeting of former members has been held at Istrana air base near the provincial capital Treviso (TV) in northern Italy. Istrana is home to the last AMX ground-attack and reconnaissance aircraft operated by the ItAF.

This special colour scheme, which was designed by the team of former ItAF member Silvano Mainini and executed by the 3° Reparto Manutenzione Aeromobili ed Armamento at Treviso (TV) reflects the nickname “Indiani” (Indians) of the Gruppo (Squadron). In the 1960s, 103° Gruppo operates not only from the usual airport infrastructure, but mostly from remote places such as makeshift airfields. Flying the FIAT G-91 light tactical fighter from grass strips earned the Gruppo (squadron) members their nickname and therefore, the reference to the American Indians on the isolated North American plains is obvious.

The 103° Gruppo Autonomo Tuffatori was established on 1 February 1943 (during the Second World War) at Lonate Pozzolo (Varese) and equipped with German Junkers Ju-87 "Stuka" dive bombers and for a short period with the twin-engine (rather unsuccessful) Italian build Breda Ba88 "Lince". After the Second World War, it was reconstituted as 103° Gruppo (Squadron) Caccia Bombardieri at Verona-Villafranca (VR). It operated briefly with the last Republic F-47D Thunderbolts, which were followed by the first jets, the Republic F-84G Thunderjet.

With the F-84G Thunderjet they formed the "Guizzo" aerobatic team, which name derived from the radio call used by the Group. Therefore, former crew members of the 103° Gruppo (Squadron) are not only called “Indiani", but also “Guizzi” (Guizzo is Italian for flash).

In 1956, 103° Gruppo moved to Rimini-Miramare on the Adriatic Sea and the transitioning to the more capable Republic F-84F Thunderstreak began. The Thunderstreak was used for a relatively short time, as it soon switched to the FIAT G-91 light tactical fighter.

In 1958, after the initial transition to Pratica di Mare (RM) near Rome, which was followed by a short stay in Frosinone, the "encampments" (like the American Indians) followed on the fields of Maniago, Risano and Campoformido. Finally, on 6 September 1959, the permanent relocation to Treviso-Sant’ Angelo Airport was established.

On 1 January 1989, after a very long stay in Treviso with the FIAT G-91, 103° Gruppo moved to nearby Istrana air base. This transfer was followed by the transition to the new Alenia AMX fighter bomber, the first example of which was delivered on 24 September 1989. The rest of the story is known, happy birthday “Guizzi”!

Photo via Aeronautica Militare

Subscribe to Scramble

As a member you get access to all our
premium content and benefits learn more